Currently viewing the tag: "Independence Day"

by Helen Xia, CHS Student Writer

Fireworks against a dark night sky at the end of the Thurmont Ambulance Co. Carnival.

Photo by Helen Xia

It’s now July, and you know what that means: Independence Day! It’s difficult to forget this valued national holiday, given the fireworks, the smell of toasty barbecue, and the flag of the United States displayed proudly in front of homes and businesses during this time of year.

Just like any other holiday, there is a wide range of emotions that are often felt, ranging from patriotism to excitement to even exhaustion after a day of lively celebration. Upon thinking about what to write for this subject, I recalled an article I read about the shifting attitude of society regarding national pride—a sentiment typically felt on the 4th of July. Interestingly, according to Gallup data, United States adults who claim to be “extremely proud” to be American reached a “record-low” since 2001, measuring 38 percent. Still, it’s worthwhile to note that 27 percent remain “very proud,” and a total of “65 percent of U.S. adults express pride in the nation.”

Given these statistics, I wanted to know how the people around me felt about Independence Day, and perhaps compare the responses between age groups. I divided the respondents into three age groups: young children, teenagers, and adults.

Most of the answers I received from young children were quite brief. “It’s cool,” said an eleven-year-old; “It’s normal,” shrugged a nine-year-old. Reasonable insight, really—I didn’t know anything when I was that age, so I can’t judge!

Another nine-year-old had more to say: “I’m happy and grateful about Independence Day,” he explained, “because the United States of America got their independence and freedom from Great Britain, and without the United States, we wouldn’t have a home and might still have war.” Surprisingly, this explanation from this nine-year-old was one of the most thorough reflections I collected!

A majority of the replies I garnered from teenagers included an explanation of what the holiday is about. We know what we’re talking about! “I guess independence day celebrates independence from Britain,” stated one teenager, “but it also is a day to honor fallen soldiers.” Similarly, another teenager conveyed, “Independence Day is where we celebrate those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. Thanks to them, we have many rights and freedoms today.” This is true, especially taking into account that approximately 6,800 Americans lost their lives in pursuit of independence, with about 6,100 wounded. Not only is it our day to celebrate and commemorate, it is their day, too.

On a more lighthearted note, a 16-year-old (half-jokingly) declared, “I love Independence Day because it’s a reminder of how much the British sucked.” Needless to say, there is more nuance than this, but I found this funny.

Speaking of nuance, another teenager brought up a few thought-provoking points. “While I feel there is no issue in celebrating Independence Day, it may also be an upsetting day for those whose ancestors were on the receiving end of oppression via our country. Independence Day should not only be a celebration of our founding but also an acknowledgment of the United States’ failings in order to improve in the future. Essentially, it should be more a time of reflection than blind joy and backyard barbecues.” To add to this, I once heard a quote that contends, “Before you improve something, you must respect it.” I feel like this applies here.

Another high-schooler commented, “Independence Day, to me, marks an important part of history that marks the beginnings of the country we live in. I don’t think it’s something that every American should necessarily celebrate (because most likely barely any of us [teens] do), but I believe it is important to understand the meaning of Independence Day and the connection it has to us in the time and society we live in.”

Lastly, I interviewed a teenager who comes from a military family, which I thought would be an intriguing perspective to learn about. “I enjoy Independence Day because it brings focus to our history as the United States and the hardworking people who fought for our country in the very beginning so that we could be free today,” she articulated. “My favorite aspect about Independence Day is the fireworks. To me, seeing the sky light up in magnificent colors and designs is a perfect way to end the night with family and friends while celebrating this holiday.”

Reading back on the responses the individuals around my age provided, I found that most of them highlighted the relevance of the history behind the 4th of July and how that significance ties to modern times and the future. I’m happy to know that we are well aware of this vital portion of our nation’s history—after all, precious phenomena like compassion and innovation are rooted in education.

Now, on to the adults’ responses! Right off the bat, the adults’ replies were succinct but enlightening. For instance, a woman suggested, “It’s a necessary holiday to remember the foundations of our country.” We’ve explored several of the emotions and personal values people hold concerning the 4th of July, but this is the first time somebody asserted that the holiday is “necessary.” I thought this was a compelling take since a crucial part of our country’s founding is accentuated and taught on this day. Perhaps some people only know about the American Revolutionary War because of Independence Day; with that in mind, it’s a valuable celebration to hold.

Another adult elaborated, “I’m glad for our freedoms, and it’s a day to celebrate our freedoms and our rights as citizens for what the military has done for us.” Comparably, a grown-up defined Independence Day as “a day that we celebrate our freedoms and our God-given rights, laid down by the Constitution. [It’s] a day we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

It’s apparent from these answers that the adults, too, seemed to spotlight the history associated with Independence Day.

Finally, a grown-up emphasized the traditions of Independence Day and the joy of celebrating with these practices: “I enjoy picnics, barbecues, and family get-togethers, as well as firework shows and parades with people waving the American flag,” he expressed. “It’s a fun day with origins steeped in the desire for independence and to create a new America.”

As mentioned previously, adults also underscored the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence and how the holiday came to be; however, I observed that while teenagers tended to link this history with present-day society and how to use this information propelling forward, adults employed the United States’ rich history as reasons for celebration. (Of course, one is not necessarily more valid than the other, and my conclusion is from a limited number of interviews. I just thought this observation was cool!)

Independence Day, or July 4th, is a day featuring the American colonies’ grievances and sacrifices, the passing of the Declaration of Independence, and nationhood. Truthfully, I’ve never done anything notable to celebrate this day, but that doesn’t undermine how special it may be to other people. Thinking back, to me, this day used to be simply a day about star-shaped sunglasses and red, white, and blue sprinkles on ice cream; now that I’m older, there is certainly more to think about than that! (And, I hope this article gave you something to think about!)

Did you notice any trends amongst groups of people or differences between the responses above?

Since there is quite a variety of answers, did you relate to any of them?

Regardless, I hope everyone has a delightful July!

Deb Abraham Spalding

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Freedom isn’t free,” especially around Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Independence Day, as a reminder of the sacrifice others have made to protect our freedom. This past Memorial Day, the official dedication ceremony of the Moser Road bridge and Trolley Trail foot bridge in Thurmont to two Thurmont Marines who were killed in action in Vietnam reminded those in attendance that there is a price for freedom.

The Moser Road bridge was dedicated, and signage unveiled, to honor SGT Woodrow Franklin “Frank” Carbaugh USMC. The Trolley Trail foot bridge was dedicated, and signage unveiled, to honor PFC Charles R. Pittinger USMC. These two young men were raised in Thurmont, and upon graduating from Thurmont High School in the 1960s, each enlisted or was drafted into the United States Marine Corps.

They were both killed in action by wounds received from hostile forces in Vietnam. They gave their lives in service to our nation, for our freedom.

The signage that is visible from both directions as you approach the bridges will serve as an on-going opportunity for travelers to remember and give thanks.

At a luncheon hosted by the volunteers at the Edwin C. Creeger, Jr. American Legion on Park Lane in Thurmont, dedication ceremony host Gary Spegal, Frederick County Commander and Thurmont American Legion Honor Guard OIC, gave the official welcome to the dual dedication of the Trolley Trail foot bridge and the Moser Road bridge spanning over Big Hunting Creek in Thurmont.

Commander Spegal said, “Read the names, reflect, and consider the sacrifice for the values that these two men fought for and died for. They inspire all of us to pray for our country’s leaders to seek peaceful settlements to our disputes.” He added, “One of the things our nation could have done better is welcoming home our Veterans who fought in Southeast Asia. It’s been half a century and their legacy has faded.” Locally, the bridge dedication will be a reminder to those who pass.

Thurmont’s Mayor John Kinnaird said, “The memory of the day when news arrived about the deaths of both Charlie and Woodie sticks clearly in my mind. I think it is appropriate that these bridges be dedicated in their names today. Bridges physically transport us from one point to another, but these bridges will now take us back in time. Each time we cross these bridges, we will remember Charlie and Woody…as the local boys we knew as family, neighbors, and friends…and the sacrifices these young men made for our community and our nation.”

On the bridge site, Ella Renner, the American Auxiliary Jr. Unit 168’s Poppy Princess, assisted Unit 168 Poppy Chairperson Angela Spegal to install red poppy flowers on each of the sign posts. The red flower of the poppy represents the blood of our fallen.

Deacon John Hawkins provided the blessing of the bridges. “Chewy,” a Veteran memorial vehicle, sounded the guns in salute.

Attendees moved from the official dedication location at the bridges to the ceremony location at the Edwin C. Creeger, Jr. American Legion on Park Lane in Thurmont.

Here, Scouts of Troop 270 Color Guard performed the Presentation of Colors.

During this touching ceremony, music was enjoyed, attendees sang the Marine Corps Hymn, and several people shared fond memories.

Sandy Seidel, mother of 1st Lt. Robert Seidel, presented a print of Robert’s poem “War” that was written in honor of Charles Pittinger to the Pittinger family. As an elementary-aged boy in Emmitsburg in the 1990s, young Robbie Seidel, learned from his uncle Larry Pittinger, about another uncle, Charles Pittinger, who had lost his life in Vietnam. He wrote the poem “War” in Charles’ honor. Little Robbie later became 1st Lt. Robert Seidel, who was killed in action while serving our country in Iraqi Freedom in May 2006.

Sgt. David Carter USMC traveled from Morristown, Tennessee, to the ceremony to talk about his tour with Sgt. Woodrow Franklin “Frank” Carbaugh. He said, “His tour of duty ran parallel with mine. I met Frank in January 1967. We received orders together. I will never forget him. He was the most Christian man I have ever known. A man of great character.”

Larry Pittinger, representing his brother John and sister Ann, spoke about their brother PFC Charles R. Pittinger. He shared that in preparation, American Legion Cmdr. Gary Spegal gave him a project to locate photos and memorabilia to display at the event.

Larry said, “For me, this request is the most rewarding part of the past eight months. Because of this request, photos that were packed away were unpacked and enjoyed again. Letters written more than 50 years ago were re-read. Through these letters, I learned of Charlie’s plans to buy a Corvette when he returned home. In a follow-up letter, he said that he may have to switch to his plan B, which was getting his ’57 Chevy on the road because of a change in the State of Maryland’s insurance rates.”

Larry continued, “He wrote of his frustration of walking through about four inches of mud to return to the base camp while carrying the M79 that was nicknamed the “Blooper” and carrying other gear that almost weighed as much as himself. Next, I found a website for Lima 35. Some of these Vets called me and shared their personal experiences. I am not a military Veteran, but after talking to these four Marine Vets, I have a deeper understanding of the kinship and the bond Veterans have for one another. To all Veterans, thank you for your service.”

“Thank you all for honoring my brother PFC Charles Robert Pittinger.”

The ceremony closed with the Benediction by Deacon John Hawkins and the Retirement of Colors by Scouts of Troop 270.

Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding

The Moser Road Bridge named in honor of Sgt. Carbaugh.

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Emmitsburg Heritage Committee Holding Wing Feed to Benefit Community Heritage Day Festival

Now is the time to plan for celebrating your Valentine’s Day with the ones you love. What better way to express your love to your significant other, and give back to the community at the same time, than attending a charity wing feed?

The Emmitsburg Heritage Committee is holding a wing feed on Saturday, February 13, 2016, at the Emmitsburg Ambulance Building, located on Creamery Road, from 3:00-11:00 p.m. Proceeds will go to benefit our Community Heritage Day Festival, being held on June 25, 2016 (rain date will be Sunday, June 26, 2016).

Emmitsburg Heritage Day is our community’s annual Independence Day celebration, and is sponsored by many of our civic organizations. The event has been held for the past thirty-four years, and includes foods like barbecue chicken, prepared and served by our Lions Club, along with other foods like Italian sausages (prepared and served by our Sons of the American Legion), as well as games for children and adults, music, and a parade, followed by a grand fireworks display. Local charities, and our community as a whole, benefit from this great fun-filled day. Emmitsburg has a rich Civil War history, and there are many amazing sites to see and tour in the area.

The Valentine’s Day Wing Feed will be one of the fundraisers that will help to keep this great event alive, because Heritage Day is operated solely on donations and proceeds from fundraisers. There will be a variety of wings, with side dishes and dessert, along with a variety of liquid refreshments. The food will be served from 4:00-7:00 p.m., and music and dancing will be from 7:30-11:00 p.m. The doors will open at 3:00 p.m. At 7:30 p.m., liquid refreshments will be served until 11:00 p.m. for a donation of $1.00 each. We will also have games for adult entertainment, so please come out and have a great time and support the cause.

Tickets are $20.00 each. Contacts to purchase tickets are: Zurgable Bros. Hardware (Mark at 301-447-2020); Mountain Liquors (Gary at 301-447-2342); Cliff Sweeney at 301-447-1712; Jennifer Joy at 301-447-6467; and Jim Houck Jr. at 717-451-1741 or [email protected]. For more information, visit

Happy New Year! God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veteran, and God Bless You.

k, Jr.